1. Resident population

2. Demographic balance

3. Foreign-born population

4. Population projections

5. Births and deaths

6. Households

7. Population and housing (Census)


1. Resident population

Statistics on the resident population cover not only the number of inhabitants, but also some key characteristics of the population, such as the gender, the age, the civil status. They are available at the municipal level.

The resident population comprises Italian and foreign citizens usually living on the national territory, even if temporarily absent. Each person having their usual residence in Italy has to register by law, (art. 2 L. 1228/1954)in the population register of the municipality where they usually live.

After each Population Census the legal population is determined (Censuses are carried out every 10 years, the last one took place in 2001). The population changes that take place in subsequent years, calculated at the end of the solar year, are added to the legal population. This enables to calculate the resident population in each municipality on 31 December of each year.

The population registers are the source of information to calculate the population and its changes (births, deaths, immigration, and emigration).

This section also presents some data concerning Italian citizens living abroad, supplied by the Ministry of the Interior and derived from the registers of the Italian population resident abroad (AIRE).

All Italian citizens who transfer their residence from an Italian municipality to a foreign country for a period exceeding one year must register with AIRE. Registration with AIRE is compulsory also for Italian citizensthat were born outside the Italian territory and are resident abroad and for foreigners who, despite living abroad, are obtain the Italian citizenship.

Registration wit AIRE is not necessary for Italian citizens who live abroad for less than one year, for seasonal workers, for permanent civil servants in service abroad, soldiers in service with the NATO offices and structures.


2. Demographic balance

As mentioned above, the population registers are the source of information for the calculation of the population and its changes. Population changes comprise:

- natural changes (births and deaths);

- migration (registrations and cancellations due to change of residence)

Istat obtains a wide range of information from the population registers, amongst which data relating to:

Resident population: comprisesItalian and foreign citizens usually living on the national territory, even if temporarily absent. Each person having their usual residence in Italy has to register by law, (art. 2 L. 1228/1954)in the population register of the municipality where they usually live (see details in the above paragraph)

Live births: the number of live births from parents resident in the municipality, independently from the place where the event happens (in Italy either in the same or in other municipality, or abroad). Consequently, live births in Italy from non-resident parents are excluded by the total number of live births. Live births reference date is the one of registration at the population register, and not the one of actual birth.

Deaths: number of deaths from resident population, regardless of the place where the event happens (in Italy either in the same or in other municipality, or abroad). Consequently, deaths on the Italian territory of non resident population are not considered. Death reference date is the one of registration at the population register and not that of actual death.

Registrations are reported as total. They include:

  • Registrations from another municipality: number of persons registered for change of residence from another Italian municipality
  • Registrations from abroad: number of persons registered for change of residence from abroad
  • Registrations for other reasons: registrations due to administrative population registers updating, including: registration of persons previously mistakenly cancelled because missing and successively reappeared; registration of persons not registered at the Census and consequently, not included in the legal population but actually resident.

Cancellations: are reported as total. They include:

  • Cancellations to other municipality: number of people cancelled for change of residence to another Italian municipality.
  • Cancellations to abroad: number of persons cancelled for change of residence to abroad.
  • Cancellations for other reasons: cancellations due to administrative population registers updating, including: cancellation of persons previously mistakenly registered because missing at the administrative verification of residence; cancellation of persons registered at the Census but they could not\did not want to register at the population register of the municipality where they have been counted by the Census.


Natural increase: it is the difference between live births in Italy or abroad from persons resident in Italy, and the number of deaths in Italy or abroad, resident in Italy.

Net migration: it is the difference between the number of registrations cancellations from the population registers of the resident population.


3. Foreign-born population

The population registers are the main source of information also for the data on the foreign-born population.

The foreign-born population includes foreign-born persons who regularly live in Italy. For each municipality the foreign-born population is calculated as of 31 December of each year subsequent to that of the Population Census, by adding the changes recorded during the solar year.

Data on the foreign-born population disseminated by Istat comprise, in addition to the number of persons, the gender, the age, and the citizenship.

In order to better understand the data on the foreign-population, some aspects concerns the changes recorded in the population registers should be borne in mind:

Registrations comprise:

  • Registrations following births: children that were born in Italy but are descendant of foreign-born parents;
  • Registrations from another municipality: foreign citizens registered due to change of residence from another municipality;
  • Registrations from abroad: foreign citizens registered following immigration from abroad;
  • Registrations due to other reasons: are generally made to correct errors

Cancellations comprise:

  • Cancellations due to death: foreign-born citizens deceased during the year;
  • Cancellations towards another municipality: foreign citizens cancelled due to change of residence towards another municipality;
  • Cancellations towards foreign countries: foreign citizens cancelled following emigration towards other countries;
  • Acquisition of Italian citizenship: persons cancelled from the lists of foreign-born population and included in those of the population with Italian citizenship. Such cancellations do not affect the total number of persons registered;
  • Cancellations due to other reasons: are generally made to correct errors.

Istat also releases data on residence permits granted to foreign-born citizens regularly living in Italy, obtained by processing information supplied by the Ministry of the Interior. Most descendants (minors) of foreign-born citizens are however excluded from these data, since they are recorded in their parents’ residence permit and cannot be estimated on the basis of the data available.

The Ministry of the Interior conducts every year a survey on the reception centres for foreigners. The survey covers the number of structures, their location and some characteristics. The field of the survey comprises all centres operating in Italy, either public or private, residential or non residential.

It is underlined that, since 1 January 2008, the stock of residence permits no longer comprises EU nationals. Since 27 March 2007 such citizens do not need to apply for the residence permit, even for periods exceeding three months.


4. Population projections

Resident population projections are available by gender, year of forecast, scenario (main, high, low), the territorial detail reaching the NUTS3 level (Province). A special section deals with projections of foreign people resident in Italy, the territorial detail reaching the NUTS2 level (Region).

Istat population projections have been usually carried out according to well accepted international standards. The so called “cohort component model” is commonly adopted. On the basis of this model, the population changes from year to year by, taking into account the ageing process of the population, adding births and in-migration and subtracting deaths and out-migration.

Population projections have been periodically reviewed, updating the assumptions about the components of the population change, namely fertility, mortality and migration. The previous set of regional projections was edited by Istat in 2003 for the period 2001-2051. A further forecast at national level was edited in 2006 for the period 2005-2050, considering only one variant.

The new projections range from the year 2007 to the year 2051, with the purpose to design the future demographic change of the country in the short-middle and long term. By the way, long term population figures should be treated with great caution, as the results become increasingly uncertain the further they are carried forward, and particularly for small geographic areas.

The projections are made up of three separate variants. The first of them, the Main scenario, represents a "plausible" set of point estimates, with the elaborations carried out on the basis of recent demographic trends.

In addition to the main scenario two alternative variants have been set, with the purpose of providing users an indication of uncertainty about the future. These two scenarios, referred to as Low and High, are set by defining a different evolution for each demographic component. They ideally draw an alternative path, where each component will bring greater (High scenario) or less (Low scenario) consistency to the population. That means higher fertility, survival and migration (internal and with abroad) under the High scenario, while exactly the opposite is true under the Low scenario. It’s important to underline that both scenarios have been prepared only as plausible alternative to the Main scenario. No one of them, in fact, can be identified as potential limit (upper or lower) of future population development.

The base population for the projections is the one collected from Population Registers by gender and year of birth on January 1st 2007.


5. Births and deaths

5.1 Births

Information on births is collected by Istat through the “Survey on live births”, which is conducted every year since 1999 and enables to monitor the main characteristics of the births and of the parents.

The survey classifies births according to the following variables:

- concerning the child: gender, date of births, place of births, citizenship

- concerning the parents: age of the mother (number of years) and cohort, age of the father (number of years) and cohort, marital status of the mother, marital status of the father, citizenship of the mother, citizenship of the father.

- concerning the family: number of members (total and aged under 18).

The survey provides the quantitative information that is necessary to calculate the main fertility indicators: total fertility rate, average age of the resident women giving birth (by marital status and citizenship). These indicators can be calculated at the municipal level, or at larger territorial levels (metropolitan areas, provinces, regions). Data on the number of family members aged under 18 enables to estimate births according to the order (first-born, second-born, etc.)


5.2 Deaths

Data on deaths are more and more used to define and / or evaluate policies for the population’s health. In recent years the need for more detailed information increased, with particular regard to territorial breakdowns. This gave rise to the production, by Istat, of mortality tables at the regional level and, since 1995, also at the provincial level.

The production of mortality tables relating to large-sized municipalities is foreseen in the near future.

The production of mortality tables takes place through the following mains steps:

  1. Calculation of the crude mortality rates, from which the 1st stage probabilities are obtained;
  2. The smoothing of the crude rates and the shift to the 2nd stage probability
  3.  Estimation of the probability of dying at senile ages;
  4. Calculation of the probability of final death using scaling techniques


5.3 Definitions and calculation of biometric functions

Probability of dying n q x , is the probability that a person of exact age x will die before reaching age (x +n) and it permits the calculation of the further biometric functions included in the life-table. 

Survivors : is the number of those surviving to exact age x from the initial generation of 100.000 births. 

Deaths : number of deaths occurring to the population in age group from x to x+1

Person-years lived : number of persons of age x (in lived years); it also indicates also the number of persons of the stationary population associated to the life table. 

Expectation of life : denotes the average expectation of life of a group of survivors on reaching age x. 

Probability of surviving: it is the probability that a person of the associated stationary population of exact age x (as per lived years at the date of January 1st of the reference year) survives for one year.

More detailed information on the methodology are available, in Italian, at: http://www.istat.it/dati/catalogo/20020731_00/volumemortalita.pdf


6. Households

6.1 Households

Demographic statistics produced by Istat comprise, besides data on the population and its changes, a set of data on households. Also in this case the main source of information are the population registers, from which Istat obtains the following information:

  • Households
  • Cohabitations
  • Population living in households, as of 31 December
  • Population living in a cohabitation, as of 31 December
  • Average number of members per household

Households:  are defined by law as “a group of persons tied through marriage, kinship, affinity, adoption, guardianship, or affective ties, cohabiting and usually living in the same municipality”.

Cohabitations: for the population registers purposes, cohabitations are intended as a group of persons living together for reasons such as religion, healthcare, social assistance, military and usually living in the same municipality. Cohabitants for work or employment reasons are considered as members of the cohabitation, provided that they to not constitute a household on its own. Persons living, even if on a continuous basis, in hotels, pensions or other accommodations establishments do not constitute cohabitation.

The resident population breaks down population living in households and population living in cohabitations.

The average number of members per household is the ratio of the population living in households to the number of households registered.


6.2 Households and relative poverty

In addition to statistics based on information derived from the population registers, Istat conducts several sample surveys on households. Among these, the Household Budget Survey is the basis for the official estimates of poverty in Italy. According to households’ consumption expenditure, Istat estimates the number and the characteristics of households that live in poverty conditions.

Poverty can be measured in terms of absolute poverty or relative poverty.

Absolute poverty refers to the minimum requirements to afford minimal standards of food, clothing, health care and shelter in the context of reference. Relative poverty refers to the condition of disadvantaged persons in comparison with other persons. More specifically, the concept of relative poverty is based on an InternationalStandard Poverty Line.

In Italy, relative poverty is calculated on the basis of the distribution of households’ consumption expenditure. A household with two members is defined as “poor” if its expenditure is equal to or lower than the average expenditure per-capita.

Poverty is therefore measured at the household level. It is assumed that the resources of each member are re-distributed within the household and that the living standard is the same for all members of the household.

The expenditure of a household having more than two members is equalized to that of a two-member household through correction coefficients (equivalence scale), which take into account the different needs and the economies of scale that occur when the number of members in a household increases.

Since the poverty line is calculated according to the average expenditure per capita, its value changes over time according to the changes in the distribution of the expenditure. In other words, measures of relative poverty are affected by the increase or by the reduction of income inequality, which may not correspond to a real worsening or improvement of the population’s overall living conditions: if a society gets a more equal income distribution, relative poverty will fall; on the contrary, if income inequality increases, the relative poverty will also increase.

6.3 Marriages

Since 1926 Istat conducts an annual survey on marriages, based on data provided form the municipal registry of marriages. The survey covers all marriages of the present population and enables to analyse nuptiality compared to the main socio-demographic characteristics of the population.

For each marriage, the following information is collected: date, type of rite (religious or civil), municipality where the marriage took place, and the matrimonial property scheme.

The information relating to the couple that is collected is: date of birth, municipality of residence at the moment of the marriage, place of future residence, previous marital status, educational level, professional condition, professional status, branch of economic activity they work in, citizenship.


7. Population and housing (Census)

This section presents the data on the resident population and housing surveyed by Istat through the Census of Population and Housing.

The Census provides offers a complete view of the country in a certain period of its history and at the same time provides precise details on: the population number, age, level of education, students and workers commuting, living standards, the structural characteristics of dwellings. Census also allows to update and revise Communal registers and to determine the legal residents.

The main users of census data are institutions: the Parliament, the Presidency of the Council, central and local administrations and other government entities. And not only. Census data are also referred to by enterprises for the planning of their activities, information experts requiring reliable and impartial data, students and researchers for their analysis and studies, sociologists and economists and private citizens to better understand the characteristics of the country.

Since Census data are collected at a micro-area level, that is at the level of municipalities, small districts and suburbs, it is the only tool that allows an extremely accurate territorial knowledge and that provides significant information, necessary, for example, for the planning of an improved transport network, for the implementation of a more rational distribution of hospitals, schools and other activities and, in general, to decide with greater awareness.

In Italy the Census is carried out every 10 years. The most recent one (the 14th Census) was conducted in 2001 and Census involved 57 million citizens, equivalent to 22 million households made up of: young people, elderly, singles, immigrants, but also nomads and homeless.

Each person specified the personal data, level of education, professional status, place where the study and work activity were carried out. Also included were some specific questions (time employed to reach the workplace, means of transport used, time spent at work or on study during the week) that contribute to define the lifestyle of the population.

When carrying out the Census on population and housing, Istat also collects information on the number and the structural characteristics of housing units.

In 2001, for the first time, Istat surveyed buildings for residential use and, limited to the city centres, it also surveyed non residential buildings.

Data aggiornamento: 
September, 2010